Quick Take on the President’s 2018 Budget Request
It should go without saying that, if enacted, this budget would be a disaster for America’s young people. It cuts vital programs that prepare students for college and career. And it walks away from any semblance of a commitment to affordable and accessible higher education. It truly is an assault on the American Dream.
The good news is that the final federal budget for this year will not look anything like this document. The president’s budget request almost always falls on deaf ears in Congress, and this one will too. We’ve already seen Republican members acknowledge the reality that they can’t pursue a budget as draconian as this and turn around and face their constituents. Rick Hess put it well (and accurately) this week in an interview with Politico: “Frequently budgets are dead on arrival. This was dead before it got in the ambulance.”
At the same time, though, this budget request matters because it will frame the terms of the conversation moving forward. When cuts this drastic are proposed, does that mean that lessening the cuts is a win? For example, this budget proposes a complete cut (all $2.1 billion) from Title II, which supports teachers. If the final 2018 budget only cuts Title II by $1 billion, there is a real risk that would be considered a win, which it absolutely would not be. Or if we protect part of the Pell reserves (instead of the $3.9 billion raid that is currently proposed), but not all of it — and the maximum award remains frozen at current levels despite increasing costs — students still lose.
So what now? The reality is that the budget will likely be the most significant action Congress will take on education this year. That means that advocates need to be more engaged than ever in the appropriations process. At Ed Trust, we’re working to keep people informed via our blog, and we’re partnering with other equity-minded advocates to push for a student-focused budget on Capitol Hill. But we will need help. Stay tuned for more updates as the appropriations process continues through the summer.